Fried Pickles

If you haven’t tried Fried Pickles, it’s a must for your ‘to do’ list. Fried pickles are a wonderful combination of all things juicy, crunchy and spicy. If you love fried foods and you love dill pickles, it stands to reason that you should love Fried Pickles. They are the perfect little bite-sized treat and with this batter-perfected recipe, they’re sure to be a hit.

Fried pickles are a snack food most commonly found in the United Kingdom, but have been making their way onto North American menus more recently. They were first popularized by Ben “Fatman” Easton in 1932 in Greenwich, England. Usually served as an appetizer or accompaniment to other dishes, fried pickles are often served with a ranch or other creamy sauce for dipping. The pickled cucumber (or dill pickle) is a cucumber that has been pickled in a brine, vinegar or other solution and left to ferment either by immersing cucumbers in an acidic solution or through souring by lacto-fermentation. In the United States you will find the Kosher dill, the full-sour and the half-sour (among other varieties). A “kosher” dill pickle merely means it has been pickled in the traditional manner of Jewish New York City pickle makers, with generous amounts of garlic and dill added to a natural salt brine. A full sour is a dill that has been fully fermented, whereas a half sour is a fill that has received a shorter ‘stay’ in the brine and is still quite crisp and bright green (these are also called old and new dills). Dill pickles are very low in calories, which make them a great snack. Covering them in batter makes them less healthy, but still a great snack (obviously for other reasons!).

Cucumbers have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years and were most likely introduced to other parts of Europe by the Greeks and/or Romans. Records of cucumber cultivation appear in France in the 9th century, in England in the 14th century and in North America by the mid-16th century, although they originated in India. The cucumber is listed among the foods of ancient Ur and the legend of Gilgamesh describes people eating cucumbers. According to Pliny, Emperor Tiberius had cucumbers on his table daily during the summer and the winter (and had Emperor Tiberius known of fried pickles, he surely would have had those on his table as well!). Cucumbers that are for pickling – called ‘picklers’ – are actually bred for uniformity of length-to-diameter ratio and lack of voids in the flesh.

While the right dill pickle makes all the difference when frying dills, you will also want the ‘perfect’ batter to accompany them. Cornmeal is your secret weapon, and you can find out more about that in this awesome fried pickles recipe. You also want to spice-up your batter with seasonings like Cajun, Italian and cayenne. If you tend to find these spices too hot, you can reduce the amounts called for but remember: the dip that accompanies your pickles should help ‘cool’ down the heat in the spices. While there is a dip included in this recipe, you can use almost any kind you prefer, including basic ranch dressing you buy off the shelf. So… give them a try, if you haven’t already – you will be pleasantly surprised. And if you’re a connoisseur of fried dills, this recipe should be in your top three!

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